“SUFFICIENT in form but insufficient in substance,” the House of Representatives’ justice committee declared on Monday, May 15, as it formally dismissed the impeachment complaint filed against Pres. Rodrigo Duterte.

A Philippine president is immune from lawsuits while in office, but he can be removed from office through impeachment.

According to the Supreme Court, “form” refers to an impeachment complaint’s technical details following established methods, while “substance” refers to material allegations, of whether or not there is a cause for impeachment. A substance is sufficient if there is a detailed statement of facts constituting the offense charged.

The impeachment complaint, filed by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, accused the president of violating the Constitution by having a hand in the killings linked to the war on drugs and treason in his conferral with China on matters of maritime domain.

Alejano accused the members of the panel of ceding their independence, neglecting their responsibility as duly-elected representatives of the people and railroading the process to jettison his complaint.

He is now considering going to an international court to hold Duterte accountable for his impeachment complaints.  The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague investigates and, where warranted, tries individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community: genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Alejano called on his colleagues in Congress and the Filipino people to stand up against the rising number of deaths brought upon by the government’s war on the drugs. He warned that if the president is not stopped he will someday turn into a dictator.

Back from his recent business trips to Cambodia, Hong Kong and China, Duterte dared Alejano and his other critics to “go ahead” with bringing a case against him to the ICC.

“They are free to do it. This is a democracy,” Duterte said.

A complaint against Duterte and 11 others was already filed by self-confessed Davao Death Squad (DDS) hitman Edgar Matobato before the ICC last April 24.

In his 77-page complaint, lawyer Jude Josue Sabio cited the “continuing mass murder” in the country as shown by the thousands of Filipinos killed in the government’s anti-criminality and anti-drug campaigns that began when Duterte was still mayor of Davao City and continues now that he is the country’s chief executive.

However, filing a case against the president before the ICC will only be a futile attempt.

“The ICC, or any other court or tribunal here or elsewhere, has no business or jurisdiction in the removal in office of President Duterte or any impeachable officer as such is the sole power of the Congress of the Philippines,” House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas explained to ABS-CBN News.

There are far more ills in the country that warrant much more attention and resources. Duterte bears these problems as he inherits the shortcomings and wrongdoings of his predecessors.

The dilemma comes with the title, the people voted for him to have. The distinction as the country’s “president” does not compensate for the responsibilities his job entails, and the incorrigible stigma of not meeting the Filipinos’ expectations—administration after administration. (AJPress)

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